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Issue 2001-12 - Friday, November 16, 2001

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  eTravel: facts and figures faced with a crisis that is gradually taking over  

According to Comscore Networks, online travel expenditures for the six months ending September 2001 accounted for two thirds of all online retail spending in the United-States., the American airline consortium, just announced that it managed to register a volume of online reservations worth $100 million in its first month of activity.

However, its CEO, Jeff Katz, specifies that online transformation involves dealing with 0.4 to 0.5 follow-up telephone calls per ticket sold…

According to PhocusWright, 21 million Americans now tend to buy travel online, which represents a 75% increase from 2000.

What this means is that American online travel buyers today account for 13% of the whole population in the United-States.

Among this travel buyer population, more people now buy their ticket online rather than use their traditional travel agencies.

Indeed, still according to this PhocusWright survey, 41% of these online travellers declared that they would rather buy their plane tickets online, compared to 26% who would rather use a traditional travel agency; as for the other e-travellers, they prefer to buy their tickets directly from airline companies.

Last year only, these figures were totally inverted: 39% of online travellers used traditional agencies to buy their plane tickets, when 27% bought their tickets online.

Please also be aware that the main motivation for online buying is the price: 60% of the respondents claimed that price was the most important factor and 53% believe that online travel agencies offer the best prices.

Should these figures be confirmed in the months to come, it would mean that the Internet is really turning things round in the eTravel sector.

Unfortunately, at the same time, the Travel Industry Association (TIA) just published its forecast for 2001 and 2002 and things are rather grim.

According to the provisional Travel forecast model built by the TIA and Dri-Wefa, American domestic travel volume is expected to decrease 3.5% in 2001 compared to 2000.

As for American domestic traveller expenditures, they are expected to fall 7 percent below 2000, which represents a $33.7 billion loss.

And the situation gets even worse for expected inbound arrivals from abroad.


For 2001 alone, TIA expects spending by both domestic and international travellers to decrease by 11.2%, which represents a loss of $9.2 billion.

In total, the TIA expects a loss of $43 billion in 2001 as far as both domestic and international travels are concerned.

As far as 2002 is concerned, forecasts are not much more optimistic, even if the beginning of a recovery is expected to take place.

Indeed, the TIA expects that in 2002 the expected recovery will not reach 2000 levels, as domestic travel expenditures should remain $27.4 billion below 2000.

As far as International travel expenditures in the USA are concerned, they should, still according to the TIA, recover quicker than domestic expenditures, but should not get back to their 2000 levels before 2003.

For the fourth quarter of 2001 alone, and compared to their 2000 levels, the TIA is forecasting a 12 percent decrease in business travel. As for pleasure travel, it is expected to fall 9%.

But these figures should be divided info different parts according to the type of expenditures that is taken into account: for airline travel alone, the fall in the fourth quarter of 2001, compared to 2000, is expected to be around 25%, which represents a 9.4% decrease for full-year 2001.

Travel by car expenditures are less badly hit and should only register a 2% decrease for the fourth quarter of 2001, from 2000 levels.

Finally, and this represents the darkest aspect of all, TIA expects 435.500 jobs directly related to travel and tourism to be lost in 2001. A figure that should keep on increasing in 2002, with another 74.000 jobs lost.

What this means is that 527.500 jobs are expected to be lost in the travel and tourism sectors, compared to the employment level in 2000.

Of course, it is hard to know whether or not these figures could also apply outside the United-States, especially in Europe, but what remains certain is that the industry of the online and offline tourism has not seen the end of this crisis yet, whatever those who wish to remain optimistic might say…

Source : TIA


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